UAMS Awarded $5.5 Million from NIH to Study Health Disparities

By Nate Hinkel

Established by an original five-year NIH grant in 2007 within the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, the ARCHD aims to develop research to improve access to quality prevention and health care programs for racial and ethnic minorities with the goal of reducing health disparities.

“We are extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished and are excited that it is being recognized with the continued funds to move forward,” said Jim Raczynski, dean of the UAMS College of Public Health and director of the ARCHD. “In order to adequately address the unique health disparities in our largely rural state, it is necessary to continue the groundbreaking research being done here in collaboration with key statewide partners.”

Those collaborators include the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, and the state’s three historically black colleges and universities.

The ARCHD focuses on chronic disease disparities in the state, including obesity, long-term disability, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Arkansas consistently ranks among the worst in the nation in health indicators and health disparities.

“Arkansas has one of the fastest growing Latino populations in the country and the largest Marshallese community outside of the Marshall Islands, in addition to a substantial African-American population in an largely impoverished Mississippi Delta region,” said Holly Felix, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAMS College of Public Health and one of two principal investigators for research projects in the ARCHD. “Our state has a strong need for the continued development of research projects to work toward making a difference in the health of these unique minority populations.”

Karen Hye-cheon Kim Yeary, Ph.D., the second principal investigator for ARCHD research projects, said partnerships are necessary for results.

“The ARCHD provides the infrastructure to strengthen the ties among our collaborators and forge more meaningful and fruitful research projects that lead to solutions,” said Yeary, associate professor in the UAMS College of Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.

Raczynski said two key cores within the ARCHD will benefit most from the continued funding award. One is the education and training core, which looks to grow current programs already in place with the state’s traditionally black colleges and universities that prepare minorities with the mentoring necessary to be successful in academic research positions. The second is the community engagement core that looks to partner with community-based organizations and develop service-learning projects for students.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or